Fitzpatrick Excited to Join Steelers’ “Winning Culture”

New Steelers defensive back meets with media for first time

Josh Rowntree
September 18, 2019 - 4:43 pm

The last time the Steelers did not make a first-round selection in the NFL Draft, their current coach, Mike Tomlin, was still three years away from being born. The year was 1969.

Yes, the decision to dish a first-round pick, which still could be anywhere from first overall to 32nd, for Dolphins defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick, was certainly a surprise. 

“It’s an honor that they did that,” Fitzpatrick said Wednesday as he met with the media for the first time since Tuesday’s trade. “It means that they thing very highly of me. I’m excited about it. Now I have to work to fulfill everything that they think of me.”

Fitzpatrick’s trade to the Steelers was one he requested. After intercepting two passes in his rookie season last year, the blossoming star had, allegedly, grown tired of how he was being used in Miami’s scheme. Most notably, the amount of times he was being asked to play as a hybrid linebacker in the box was reported to be a concern of his.

“I’m not going to talk too much about Miami,” he said. “I’m here in Pittsburgh now. I’m excited about being here. My focus is here.

“If I have to (play in the box), from time-to-time, I’m fine with it. But every single snap? I don’t think that’s what I’m fit for right now with my skillset.”

The Steelers plan to, as Tomlin put it, “anchor down” Fitzpatrick at the free safety position. It works twofold. He gets to acclimate to the defense by focusing on just one position and fills the void left by the injury to Sean Davis, who went on injured reserve Tuesday.

“Once I learn the system more, I will be able to move around because I think that’s a vital part of my game, the versatility,” he said. “It’s an important part of my game and I think that’s why they wanted me here.”

The Steelers have their own problems, no question. 0-2 and now without starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for the season. But Miami is a different story. Hope is gone after being outscored 102-10 in its first two games.

“Pittsburgh is a winning culture,” Fitzpatrick said. “It’s a winning team. It’s a team that focuses on being tough, physical and going out there and dominating your opponent. Just because we’re 0-2 right now doesn’t mean we can’t turn it around.”

Fitzpatrick’s relationship with Steelers coach Mike Tomlin dates back to his days at Alabama as he prepared for last year’s NFL Draft. He says it was, at that point, that he got a sense of Tomlin’s coaching style and ability to connect with players. 

That relationship now grows, professionally, speaking. Fitzpatrick took, he estimated, 4-5 hours on Tuesday to talk with coaches and study up on his position, as Pittsburgh plans to start him Sunday in San Francisco.

“It’s tough, but football is football at the end of the day,” he said. “Once you learn the terminology and the verbiage of the game and the small differences in the game, you’re good. Today, I didn’t feel out of place, at all. I didn’t feel like I was in the wrong spot at all… I’ll be ready for Sunday.”

As for what he expects when the Steelers take the field, in search of a first win over a 49ers team that has yet to lose?

“I’m going to go out there, play football and win the game.”

Hear more from Minkah Fitzpatrick below.